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Paris, spring 1968. While most students take the lead in the May 'revolution', a French poet's twin son Theo and daughter Isabelle enjoy the good life in his grand Paris home. As film buffs they meet and 'adopt' modest, conservatively educated Californian student Matthew. With their parents away for a month, they drag him into an orgy of indulgence of all senses, losing all of his and the last of their innocence. A sexual threesome shakes their rapport, yet only the outside reality will break it up. Written by
There are two types of dreamers in `The Dreamers': the three main characters, who create their own interior world and prefer to view the outside world by watching classic 1930s cinema; and the socialist street revolutionaries of riot-torn 1968 Paris, who attempt to overthrow the political and economic power structure. `The Dreamers' focuses more on the former than the latter, and Bernardo Bertolucci is careful to leave his film open to interpretation, but ultimately the dream world of the three main characters is shattered by the realities of life. The film ends before resolving the outcome of the second set of dreamers, but we all know our history. Some may think it a shame that the dreamers fail, but others like myself will view it as something that has to happen, if the dream is unrealistic and unsustainable.
The relationship between the three main characters is unlike anything that I've ever seen portrayed on film. The twins, Isabelle and Theo, are almost as close to each other in young adulthood as they were during the nine months they spent together in their mother's womb. Matthew, a U.S. student studying abroad in Paris, inserts himself into the middle, and when he receives early indications that portend the depth of the relationship between the twins, he does not run away. To me, this required too much suspension of disbelief, but I'm certainly aware that others have different proclivities. If Bertolucci's intent was to show a high degree of separation between his three dreamers and the rest of society, he certainly succeeded.
The three dreamers have some, but ultimately too little, awareness of their separation from reality and the unsustainable nature of the world they create. While sympathizing with the revolutionaries in the street, they actually are the ultimate materialistic consumers: they produce nothing that they consume (neither food nor art), and when the money their parents provide runs out, and they've drained most of the wine cellar, the harsh realities of life set in. Rooting through trash heaps isn't the answer, and the choices that they leave themselves in the end (self-annihilation or nihilism), I believe, show just how flawed their ideal world is. My interpretation is that this lesson also applies to the other set of dreamers, the street revolutionaries, but those who even today sympathize with the views of those revolutionaries will reject this interpretation.
`The Dreamers' is very voyeuristic, and Bertolucci puts his three leads through some incredibly intimate moments. All three leads are quite good, with Eva Green in particular deserving special notice for a completely uninhibited performance (at least the two male leads had each other's example to follow). It's hard to come up with an accurate overall rating for this film, because I think there will be a widespread variance in how different people react to both the storyline and the images. Read the reviews carefully, and if it sounds like something that interests and won't shock you, then give it a try. My middle-of-the-road rating is mainly due to my not being terribly interested in the type of relationship formed by the three main characters.
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